Reputable vs. Non Reputable, Back Yard Breeders and Red Flags

First and foremost, we would like to say that vom Haus am Lerchenweg is here for the breed. We are not in competition with any other breeder, local or World wide. We are here to improve the breed and our program. If you are looking to inquire about how our program is different or compares to others, we can only speak for ourselves and our accomplishments. We will not discuss any other breeders in the area. We will remind you to do your homework. Thomas’ accomplishments speak for themselves. He has been breeding for 30+ years, has mentored under some of the best breeders in Germany. He has trained and titled over 70 dogs in Schutzhund/IPO now IGP. We are fortunate that he has brought his knowledge to us, in the United States. He has most recently produced from his own breeding by 3 generations a VA female, she was also V14 in the German Sieger Show. She was the highest placed female born in the USA at the German Sieger Show. He has accomplished things that no other breeder in Idaho as well as the Pacific Northwest has done. He has dogs on the police force, certified SAR dogs, Registered Medical Assist dogs, as well as many currently in the sport of Schutzhund/IPO and now IGP, and just as many on families couches world wide.
We work very closely with several breeders in Germany and follow the SV Guidlines when it comes to breeding. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and help you find your newest family member, whether they come from us, or we help educate you to find the correct breeder for your needs. When we say we are in it for the breed, we mean it. Our job is to find you the perfect family member, no matter where it comes from. If you are local, we will help you with training, if you are not, we will do everything in our power to help you through the growing pains of a new puppy.

Resources Used: www.gsdca.org; www.akc.org

Conscientious Breeders

  • Strive in each and every breeding to achieve the highest quality possible relative to the breed standard for health, conformation, trainability and temperament, in order to maintain our breed's characteristics. Many conscientious Breeders plan every breeding around progeny that they would want in their breeding program. Each breeding takes much thought, planning, research and careful calculation.

  • Use only physically sound, mature dogs of stable temperament for breeding. The dogs should be Titled or Certified, in some form, Herding, Schutzhund/IPO/IGP, an active, sworn in Search and Rescue K9, or Police K9. This is very important to maintain the stability and purpose of the German Shepherd dog as a Working Dog.

  • Continue to educate themselves regarding genetic diseases pertinent to the German Shepherd. Documentation of all health screening should be available to prospective puppy buyers.

  • Match each puppy's personality as carefully as possible with a compatible family.

  • Take appropriate steps to have each puppy examined by a licensed veterinarian for general health prior to placement. Each puppy should be vaccinated and de-wormed prior to going to their new homes.

  • Educate the buyers to the importance of waiting to spay/neuter. Methods should include written spay/neuter contracts, limited registration.

  • Endeavor to gain personal knowledge of the temperament and health of every dog they breed, or to which they breed, in order to gather information on which to base future breeding decisions. They share this information fully and honestly with other breeders and with prospective buyers.

  • They should at any time accept the return of any dog their breeding program produces and they should always help when relocation is needed as well as any and all training needs to ensure the successful life of the puppy.

  • Encourage puppy buyers to go to obedience training to help their puppies to become better family members.

Unethical or Back Yard Breeders, some “Red Flags” to watch for

The "breeder" lacks knowledge about the breed and the Breed Standard, unable to spell German Shepherd.

The "breeder" shows ignorance or denial of genetic defects in the breed. Hips and Elbows, Spondylosis, DM.

  • Any of these issues should be removed from a breeding program immediately. Not only can they be passed down to their puppies, but to breed a dog with one of these health issues can cause massive, painful damage on the female or male that is being bred. The breeding dog MUST be a priority to the “breeder” and there is never an excuse to ignore these issues. When excuses are made regarding health, we are not improving, we are making money. this is a very important piece to finding a reputable breeder*

The "breeder" has no involvement in dog sports.

  • A lot of “breeders” state that their dogs are in training, or they are capable of the work, the progeny is capable of the work, they want to make sure the female can produce puppies first. That their parents did the work therefore these dogs can work. Do not let them fool you. Anyone that truly cares for the breed will find a way to make sure they are active in the sport to maintain the breed for what it was meant, foremost, a working dog. Educate yourself in the parent clubs for what your breed should do. See what local clubs, training groups are available. There are plenty of options for people who want to improve their program.

The “breeder” is quick to speak poorly of Conscientious Breeders or Reputable breeders. This is not a selling point, this is a red flag.

  • Many “breeders” would rather talk poorly about reputable breeders. Instead of speaking to their accomplishments, they speak of competition, this is not professional. Any reputable breeder will speak to what they have done, they will show you dogs and their accomplishments from their own breeding. They will tell you to do your research on breeders, but will not speak negatively about them.

  • They will also tell you that if you buy a dog from them they will help you, mentor you, however, if you mention speaking to another breeder, they will no longer be available to assist you. Any person who is a TRUE advocate for the breed, will not care where your dog came from, they will do everything they can to help you with your newest family member.

The “breeder” calls genetic faults, unique, special, or rare, using them as selling points.

  • There is nothing unique about genetic faults. There is a reason that they are labeled faults, it is not for someone to make more money. This should NEVER be a selling point.

How to read those ads. A few more things to look out for.

"Champion lines" - look instead for Champion sired or Champion parents. "Champion Lines" means there is one dog somewhere in that puppy's family that was a champion - it says nothing about the quality of the parents at all. Anyone can buy a puppy from a champion, but it does not mean that they have any other interest in the breed but to bank on the name and make money. The puppy may have been sold as a pet and an unethical person did not have the dog spayed/neutered and is still breeding puppies. Having a Champion in a pedigree is  like having a billionaire relative. It doesn't mean that you are rich unless each generation from that relative has passed down the money.

"AKC Registration" or "AKC Papers" - So what? AKC registration does not guarantee quality. AKC papers are much like the title of a car; papers are issued to the junked Chevy on blocks in your yard just as easily as they are on a brand new, shiny Jaguar. AKC does not control breeding, approve litters, or guarantee temperaments. Unfortunately, in the hands of some unethical breeders, it doesn't even guarantee that the dog is purebred. AKC Registration is automatic if you buy from a reputable breeder - they will provide all necessary paperwork when you buy a puppy. It is not a selling point, and shouldn't be treated as one. AKC is an organization out for the money alone.

"Extra-Big", "Extra-Small" - breeders trying for extremes are rarely raising healthy dogs, and any ad that has to stress the size and weight of the dog to sell the puppies is suspect. Usually, these dogs are outside of the breed's norm and are subject to their own medical problems due to excessive size or lack of it.

"Rare or Unique" - Why? Are there too many defects for the animal to be bred? What kind of problems does this "rare" color or size entail? Medical? Behavioral?  Stay away from anyone suggesting rare and unique.

"See Both Parents" - This is not usually a good thing. Rarely will a good breeder have the luck to own both dogs for the perfect litter. If you can see both parents, it may mean that the person had two dogs in the backyard and didn't supervise them carefully enough, resulting in puppies, or that they bred to a dog of convenience they already owned. Most Reputable Breeders will not own both dogs. In some cases dogs are flown to other Countries, States, to find the ideal male for the female. The “Breeder” that uses their male numerous times with the same female, is producing, not selecting. Breeding is Selecting. It is taking the best dog available to give families healthy, happy, excellent temperament family members. This is a typical “Back Yard Breeder Red Flag”, using the same male and female over and over.

  • you will see a breeder that has a very nice stud male on their property, they have used them and do use them, but they also go out and breed to other dogs.

There are some good and very reasonable reasons to have both parents on site. However, you need to ask the right questions and understand why this is true. If the breeder doesn't have an answer, you need to evaluate whether this breeder is doing the right thing. They might be, they might not. But it is an extremely important question.

"Must go now! Puppies at Reduced Cost! Christmas Puppies!" - Why? Are they too big to be cute anymore? Need more money? Is there a problem? Usually because there are more on the way.  Puppies reduced cost. Christmas Puppies? No reputable breeder wants their puppies under a Christmas Tree. They are a 12-14 year commitment not a “surprise” Typically a reputable breeder will have a large waiting list prior to the breeding even happening. It is very normal for a reputable breeder to have a full waiting list. Be very wary of this ploy. Also, for them to keep a puppy that hasn’t sold, and train it is much more effective and responsible for the puppy than reducing the cost.